Mumbai | RTE admissions on hold even as schools reopen

Mumbai: A fortnight after city schools reopened, the online admission process for 25% seats reserved under the Right to Education Act, 2009, continues to be on hold.

Only around 1,400 of the 4,089 applicants have secured admission before BMC disabled the admit tab on the portal. The rest of the applicants were either completing the admission process or waiting for round two of the lottery to be allotted a school.

The Bombay high court, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) in May had ordered a status quo on a government resolution of April 30 which had allowed schools to cancel pre-primary admissions. However, instead of continuing the admissions as per the old rules, the state asked BMC to put the process on hold. “Even if the court hasn’t stayed admissions, we have put it on hold until there is a decision. If we go by old rules, schools are creating trouble and do not want to admit students,” said Dinkar Temkar, deputy director of the education department.

The BMC, which is the implementing agency for the online process, has requests and complaints from parents. “We have been doing the rounds of schools and the education department since two months. Schools refuse to give admissions and say BMC has asked them to do so,” said the parent of a student who was allotted a seat in a Goregaon school.

The next hearing of the PIL is scheduled on July 9. “We’re only following instructions from the education department. All we can do is to ask parents to wait but they are getting impatient as their children are out of school and it has been two weeks since the academic year has begun,” said a senior BMC official.

Source: The Times of India

Coimbatore | RTE report to be tabled today, but key details may be missing

Coimbatore: The district school education department had sought a three-day extension to submit its report on admissions under the Right to Education (RTE) to the directorate of matriculation schools (DMS). The report that was supposed to be submitted on June 18 is expected to reach officials in Chennai on Wednesday.

After a Madras high court directive earlier this month, the DMS was asked to publish details of admissions under RTE in the past two years and also in this academic year. Following this, the director of matriculation schools, Pitchai R had ordered the chief educational officers of all districts to compile all relevant details such as the number of seats under RTE in private schools and the number of admissions made, and also verify details pertaining to fees paid by parents for RTE and the amounts claimed by schools for reimbursements.

All district school education departments across the state had formed committees to inspect private schools. These committees included a high and a higher secondary school head, an assistant education officer, a block resource teacher and a department official. These committees were to inspect 15 schools on an average between June 15 and 18.

However, according to an official of the district school education department, the committee could not compile the details due to lack of coordination between the parents and the school managements. “Parents could not find time to meet the committees. So we could not collect details of fees paid by them despite admitting their children under RTE,” the official said.

Without the fee details, the committees cannot verify the amount claimed by schools for reimbursements.

Private schools allegedly collected fees from parents of those admitted under RTE as the state government was delaying the reimbursement for the past two years.

An official of the department, who is also a member of one of the committees, said, “We cannot expect the parents to be present when we visit the school for inspection. Most parents could be working professionals and cannot make it to the school during their working hours.”

The official said that the parents can instead be asked to submit the details to the schools, which can be verified when the committee members visit the school.

Another department official said, “There are over 400 schools that we have to inspect within a week’s time. While details pertaining to admissions will be available with schools, those regarding fees have to be verified with the parents.”

The official said that they should be given more time to ensure that all parents can submit the details. “If a parent does not meet the committee, then we will have to account what the school says, and mention the amount in the report for reimbursement,” said the official.

Source: The Times of India

Mandate for social inclusion in RTE

Public policies, almost as a rule, are about negotiating paradoxes. In doing so, they also generate new ones. Section 12(1)c of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, which mandates that all private unaided schools (with the exception of minority-run and boarding) admit at least 25% of their students in their entry-level class from socially disadvantaged and economically weaker groups, is no exception.

While the need for greater attention to the improved functioning of government schools can hardly be disputed, the attention and controversy that the mandate has attracted is emblematic of several aspects of the Indian schooling system, the policy implementing capacity of the state and the larger society in which these policies are placed.

A primary reason for the attention the mandate has attracted is that it threatens private enclaves of middle-class India in a manner that no other recent social policy has done. What should have been reserved for us as a matter of privilege because of our ability to pay for it seems to be being distributed as a matter of right to the “undeserving”. How will they cope with the high quality of education in these schools and the social and psychological pressures? There is surprisingly little questioning of the capability of the school itself. How good is a school that is not capable of including children without the privileged economic and social backgrounds that they usually serve and have built their reputations on?

In the midst of a debate that rages between supporters and critics of the mandate, we have a state that continues to “flail”. Having enacted a significant piece of legislation, it either chooses to implement it on a “pilot” basis (as was done in Gujarat till last year) or in fits and starts, like is currently being done in Maharashtra, where the government has gone back on its earlier stand that it would reimburse pre-primary education as well.

In a systematic review of rules and notifications issued by the state governments to implement the mandate, we found that not even one state had provided complete and clear information on 21 processes we had identified as necessary for the mandate’s implementation. States such as Maharashtra and Rajasthan, which had creditably developed strong management information systems (MIS) to facilitate the implementation, had very limited awareness and outreach efforts to complement the technology investments, while many states remained silent on crucial aspects around reimbursements of pre-primary education and uniforms. The data available to assess the implementation was found to vary from sources within the government itself, leaving question marks on the state’s ability to monitor its own functioning.

Even if the state were to implement the mandate as desired, it cannot overcome the inequities that are a direct consequence of India’s failure to have a common schooling system. The private school response can at best address private needs. Nevertheless, it is important to get the state to act to fulfil its promise and begin to confront the inequities that define the Indian schooling system. It is for this purpose that some of us have been working as part of a Right to Education Resource Centre.

Over the two years we have worked, we have focused primarily in helping implement this particular RTE mandate. Prior to the year we started our work, only around 30 students had benefited from this mandate in Ahmedabad. Last year, this number had risen to approximately 1,800 applications and around 600 admissions. With more than 5,000 applications this year, we hope the numbers will further increase. The centre has been a platform that has brought together more than a hundred staff members and students from several academic institutions across the country to volunteer their time for this purpose and is starting to be replicated in other cities as well.

Our work exposes us to many stories of outright discrimination and deception, of parents being denied entry into the school premises even with all necessary documents and being rudely chided for believing that their children can study in such “good” schools. We have met parents deceived into signing papers withdrawing their child’s admission. Children admitted under the mandate have been made to sit separately on the ground, while others sat on the benches on the pretext that it kept them awake since they are not used to attending school.

However, we have also seen schools being proactive in implementing the mandate, engaging not only the children but also the parents. For instance, Riverside School in Ahmedabad has started helping the parents of children appear for examinations through the National Institute of Open Schooling, in addition to conducting home visits and English classes for the parents. While there is much that the government can do better, the success of the mandate will critically depend on how school leadership in private schools responds to it. The numbers are still few, but there are encouraging signs of school leaders beginning to see in the mandate an opportunity to fulfil their true roles as educationists and not just managers catering to paying customers.

Prejudices about the kind of schooling appropriate for the disadvantaged is sadly prevalent in many quarters of the government as well. But facilitating the implementation of the policy has also given us the opportunity to work with local government officials committed to helping these parents. Among other things, this has also enabled us to design ways of testing the effectiveness of various outreach strategies and understand the challenges in implementing public policy with a close lens.

Accessing constitutional rights for social upliftment still remains a challenge for groups with limited access to formal institutions but organizations such as the Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat in Pune serve as examples for the role civil society mobilization can play. Finally, we have witnessed communities come together in getting their children ready for the first day in school and collectively seeing them off at the gates they might have otherwise never entered. There is little to guarantee that the children will be better off for having entered those gates, but there is no denying that they are at the forefront of a battle for making Indian society a more inclusive one.

Ankur Sarin is a faculty member of IIMA’s Public Systems Group. His work focuses on the consequences of social inequalities and the evaluation of efforts to counter them. Recently, he has been working on making the Right to Education an instrument not only for increased access to education, but also one that promotes a more inclusive education system.

This article presents the author’s personal views and should not be construed to represent the institute’s position on the subject.

Source: live mint

Bengaluru | Bengaluru school charges RTE students for admission

Bengaluru: In open violation of the RTE Act rules, a school here is collecting fees from students admitted under the 25 per cent reserved quota and is even issuing chalans for the same.

RTE quota students at Goodwill Girls High School in Fraser Town have been paying fees every year ever since they joined the school. A parent, whose daughter is in class 3, said the school had been collecting the fees right from class 1. “In class 1, the school collected about Rs 2,000 and in the class 2, about Rs 5,000. In class 3, it hiked the fees to about Rs 6,000. If we do not protest now, it will go on increasing the fees next year and the year after that,” said the parent, who refused to be named, fearing action from the school.

Deccan Herald has a copy of the chalan issued to the student, which asks her to pay Rs 6,136 under heads such as ‘administrative charge, uniform, books, computer, infrastructural development and others’. Similar chalans have been issued to several other students admitted under the 25 per cent quota.

Another parent, whose daughter was admitted under the RTE reserved quota in class 3, said that the school charged regular students Rs 13,000 and those under the RTE quota Rs 6,136. “The school stopped admitting students under the reserved quota from this year,” the parent added.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Vani, the headmistress of the school, said: “We are not charging any tuition fees for these students. The amount being collected is meant for books and uniform. In any case, the government hasn’t reimbursed us for admitting students under the RTE quota for the last two years.” The State government pays Rs 11,848 for each student in class 1 and Rs 5,924 for those in the pre-school level. A number of schools have complained about the delay in reimbursement.

Niranjan Aradhya V P, Fellow, Centre for Child and Law, National Law School of India University (NLSIU), said the school’s action in collecting fees amounted to a “gross violation” of the rules and an “injustice” to the students.

V Ramesh, Block Education Officer, North Zone-3, under whose jurisdiction the school falls, said a committee had been formed to look into the matter and a report would be prepared in a few days.

Source: Deccan Herald

Nagpur | Notice to 290 schools over RTE admissions

Nagpur: The local education department is planning to issue show cause notice to approximately 290 schools that have not started admissions under Right to Education Act (RTE) quota yet. A source in the department said schools had been citing various reasons for not going through with the process and through this show cause notice their reason for stopping admissions will become official. Schools are likely to receive the notices on Tuesday and will get maximum three days to respond. The education department will take action after replies of schools are received.

The admissions under RTE’s 25% quota have been a fiasco right from the time the system shifted to online mode. The online admission lottery was to bring in transparency and fast turnaround but it has been a downhill ever since. Problems started the moment the software accepted applications from parents for both pre-primary and primary sections of the same school, even though technically it should have been in only one section.

An education official speaking on condition of anonymity blamed the schools. “Before the online lottery, we had asked schools to register and enter their details. They messed up by giving both primary and pre-primary as their entry point. Hence the software calculated accordingly,” the official said. However, schools deny the charge saying the software is flawed. “Since there can be only one entry point, the software should have automatically rejected selection of a secondary choice. This shows the software’s algorithm is flawed,” a principal said.

The RTE admission fiasco across the state is now in a state of deadlock with nothing moving from either side. The entire thing has also become sub-judice with Bombay High Court on May 5 directing schools to maintain status-quo and by not cancelling the pre-primary admissions. The directive came after the state government on April 30 issued a government resolution (GR) saying pre-primary admissions can be cancelled by schools as the entry point shall be Std I for all. This GR, because of its ambiguity, created more problems as schools interpreted it as no fresh admissions in Std I. This is because their RTE students from KG2 were being promoted to Std I thus fulfilling 25% quota. The education department insisted that fresh admissions needed to done.

The department’s Nagpur office believes show cause notices are the best way to end the stalemate. An official said, “Once schools share their reasons for not giving admissions we can address the problem.”

Source: The Times of India

Bengaluru | Schools Run by Air Force Come Under RTE, Says MHRD

Bengaluru: Schools run by Indian Air Force will also come under the Right to Education Act (RTE), and an official order will be issued in this regard soon.

In reply to a letter by commissioner of public instruction, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has said IAF schools will come under the RTE’s purview.

Commissioner of Public Instruction Mohammed Mohsin told Express, “Following complaints from parents, who applied for RTE seats at Air Force schools, I wrote a letter to the MHRD secretary. The secretary said that except minority institutions, all school will come under the purview of RTE. The secretary said an official order would be issued soon and circulated to the schools and state governments.”

According to information from the Department of Public Instruction, over 63 seats are available under RTE quota in IAF-run schools in Bengaluru. “We have received over 300 applications for the 63 seats,” said an official. Some of the parents have approached the Lokayukta over this issue. “Last week, the Lokayukta summoned us. We informed them about the MHRD communication,” said Mohsin. “We contacted school authorities, who said they have written to MHRD and are waiting for a reply,” he added.

The parents said they prefer the IAF-run schools due to the quality of education offered there. B N Yoganand, general secretary of RTE Students and Parents Association said, “As they are not minority schools, they cannot get RTE exemption. We hope to get justice this year.”

Source: The New Indian Express

New Delhi | Private schools fill just 29% of 2 million seats for kids from poor families

New Delhi: Five years since the Right to Education (RTE) Act set aside one-fourth of all seats in private schools for students from poor families, implementation of the move that aimed to combine student enrolments with social engineering remains a study in apathy.
The RTE Act passed in 2009 took effect the next year. Less than one-third of these seats were filled in 2013-14, found the survey conducted by Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), Central Square Foundation (CSF), Accountability Initiative of Centre for Policy Research and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.
Of the 2,140,287 seats available with private schools under RTE for economically weaker sections (EWS), just 29% were filled. The survey, which sourced data from the human resource development (HRD) ministry and states, found that Delhi (92%), Madhya Pradesh (88%) and Rajasthan (69%) were among states that fared better.
In nine states, less than 20% of these seats were filled, reflecting poor monitoring by the state and central governments, lack of awareness and disinterest by private entities. Among these, Andhra Pradesh filled just 0.2% of available seats, followed by Odisha (1.85%) and Uttar Pradesh (3.62%). Even in relatively developed states such as Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, the figures were just 11.25% and 19.35%, respectively.
The intention of “social engineering and desegregation” among students through the RTE section 1-C (25% reservation provision) has not been achieved fully, said Nalini Juneja, professor at National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NEUPA), which functions under the HRD ministry.
The survey took 2013-14 as base year since the provision was implemented across states only in that year, after several legal hassles.
Ankur Sarin, professor at IIM-A, said Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan did well in terms of absolute numbers. Out of the 600,000-plus seats that were filled in this category nationally, the two jointly accounted for nearly 300,000 seats.
“The number of students who have secured admissions in private schools under the 25% reservation provision is extremely low,” said Ashish Dhawan, founder and chief executive of CSF. “Even after five years of RTE, state rules and notifications of this provision are not clearly defined, this is leading to ineffective implementation across states. If implemented effectively, this policy can provide opportunities to 1.6 crore children across India (over a period of time),” said Dhawan, a co-founder of private equity firm ChrysCapital, who started CSF as an education philanthropy venture.
The report also underlined that in 2013-14, out of 206,000 private unaided schools with Class I, only about 45,000 reported enrolling students under the EWS category. States such as Andhra Pradesh (0.1%), Odisha (1%) and Uttar Pradesh (2%) reported the lowest school participation rate, whereas Rajasthan (65%), Delhi (48%) and Uttarakhand (43%) rank among states with the highest school participation rate.
Juneja of NEUPA said there is a huge awareness deficit among parents, society, schools and even government authorities, but Annie Namala, executive director at Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion, said private schools were not willing to admit poor students. This is happening even in the Capital, but there is little monitoring, said Namala, whose organization works in the school education sector.
According to Amit Kaushik, director for education at IPE Global that runs schools in three states, other than poor awareness, the government, which had spoken of reimbursing the cost of educating disadvantaged kids in private schools, has not done much in this space.
Talking about low school participation rates, Yamini Aiyar, director at Accountability Initiative, said there is no clarity on how the reimbursement amount is calculated. In many instances, schools and parents are unclear if the fee waiver applies only to the tuitions or includes other expenses such as books, stationery and uniform.

Source: Livemint

New Delhi | RTE deadline coming up but universal primary education still not in sight

New Delhi: By March 31, 2015, elementary education in India was meant to be universal. The plan was to have every child between six and 14 in school; ensure all infrastructure was up to scratch; and teachers were in sufficient numbers and well-trained. But there is still a large number of children out of school, large number of teachings posts are lying vacant and many fear the Right to Education Act itself may be in danger. To top it all, 12 state governments have, till 2014, closed or merged over 80,000 of their own schools.

The 2015 deadline was one for the government to get teachers in place and trained. A survey undertaken by RTE Forum – a conglomeration of child rights and education organizations, academics and educationists – shows that little progress has been made on this front. Analysing data from the District Information System for Education (DISE), they discovered there are 5.68 lakh teaching positions vacant and all states have hired large numbers of contract teachers; 19.69% of teachers are untrained.

But teachers, despite being integral to the system, have also been the most neglected part of it. Poonam Batra from the Central Institute of Education (CIE) suggests that this lacuna is present in the RTE Act itself. “Since the launch of the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP), there has been steady marginalization of the teacher. There are commissioned studies though which the teacher – not the system – has become the subject. The suggestion is that the system is not the problem but the teacher is.” Further, state contribution toward teacher training has been negligible despite the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee recommendations on teacher education. There’s been little change in service conditions — 10% teachers travel over 25 kilometres to reach school, most are engaged in non-teaching work that’s not specified in the RTE Act.

Instead of ensuring full implementation, state governments have closed or merged schools. The RTE Forum’s report quotes a National Coalition for Education report that states that till 2014, 80,647 schools have been closed or merged across 12 states with Rajasthan (17,129), Gujarat (13,450), Maharashtra (13,905) and Karnataka (12,000) being the biggest culprits.

There is also increased emphasis on “quality” or “learning outcome” – both defined, as Batra puts it, “in the context of the market.” “We need to look at the definition for “outcome”, understand poverty and the classroom processes.”

There is need also to question government data on education as well. “No one here believes 98% children in the country are in school,” states former chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Shantha Sinha, “Last month 300 Bihari children were rescued from bangle-making factories in Hyderabad. There are thousands others.” Verifying government data is part of the purpose of RTE Forum’s annual “stock-taking” report.

Educationists are also distressed about the demand for non-detention policy to be struck down. “This cannot be done without the amendment of the RTE Act but indicates how there’s an attempt to dilute its provisions,” observes Batra. The RTE campaigners have yet another front to do battle on – research. Sinha believes that “research itself has become a site for contestation.” “Only the huge organizations conducted studies with huge funding is considered research. There’s research that says para-teachers teach better, that community participation doesn’t improve quality,” she says, her tone betraying her complete lack of regard any of it.

Survey: 457 govt schools surveyed 10 states covered Data from DISE also used Teachers: Posts sanctioned (DISE 2013-14) : 19.83 lakh Posts vacant (DISE 2013-14): 5.68 lakh About 10% teachers travel over 25 km to school | 10% travel 15-20 km | 36.5% travel 10-15 km Only 53.6% attended in-service training 72.6% schools reported their teachers didn’t receive on-site academic support All states reported that teachers are engaged in non-teaching tasks other than those specified in the RTE Act. Number of unqualified teachers high in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal 8.5% teachers and principals getting paid without coming to school

Schools Closed / Merged* :

Rajasthan: 17,129 Gujarat: 13,450 Maharashtra: 13,905 Karnataka: 12,000 Andhra Pradesh: 5,503 Odisha: 5,000 Telangana: 4,000 Madhya Pradesh: 3,500 Tamil Nadu: 3,000 Uttarakhand: 1,200 Punjab: 1,170 Chattisgarh: 790

* School closure data collated by National Coalition for Education

Source: The Times of India